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A to Z of Marty Wilde

Marty Wilde

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Album Review

These 24 songs from Marty Wilde's prime years, 1957-1962, are about the best compilation of the British beat singer's work that we're ever likely to see. They also illustrate the delights and flaws of early English rock & roll. On the plus side, Wilde is a good singer — he has a strong voice, and an authentic sounding (which is to say, uninhibited) American delivery on numbers like his first hit, "Endless Sleep," which made the top five in England in 1958. And he eventually developed a delivery that was his own, a subdued, yet ominous, vocalizing similar to Gene Vincent at his most threatening on "Bad Boy," and which he developed further on "Tomorrow's Clown"; it's no accident, in fact, that Eddie Cochran made broadcast appearances with Wilde's backing band, the Wild Cats, because his vocalizing could be properly bluesy and lent itself to American-style accompaniment. On the negative side, although he wrote a few songs (including "Bad Boy"), Wilde was seemingly almost wholly dependent on American hits for his source material, and good as his singing may be, his covers of "A Teenager in Love," "Rubber Ball,," and "Splish Splash" just aren't going to make anyone forget the American originals — though "Dream Lover," with its more elaborate vocal arrangement, comes fairly close to separating itself from Bobby Darin's rendition. Additionally, it's safe to say that Wilde (or his management) were never quite certain if they wanted him to sound like Dion, Bobby Vee, Elvis Presley, or Bobby Darin. He could blaze away when he wanted to, as on "High School Confidential," where he and an unnamed piano player and guitarist rip through the Jerry Lee Lewis song, and his own "Wild Cat" shows a refreshing mix of pop lyricism and Bill Haley-style, sax-based honking and stomping; and Wilde covered Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" in a kind of higher amplified version Elvis Presley-style that's enjoyable if not enlightening; but then he follows it up with a wimpy ballad like "Teenage Tears." And that's the way this collection goes — from one sound to another. Technically, the CD is excellent with clean, crisp sound, and as a low-midpriced item (under $10), it's hard to complain about the packaging or the price.

Biography

Born: 15 April 1939 in Blackheath Concert Hall, London,

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

England in the late 1950s had its share of rock & roll stars — Cliff Richard was the most successful and was still at it in 2004, some 46 years later, with a knighthood to show for it on top of everything else; and the late Billy Fury is still revered by those aware of the music. In between them, chronologically, stands Marty Wilde. Born Reginald Leonard Smith in Blackheath on April 15, 1939, he grew up in Greenwich, in southeast London. The son of a professional soldier, he lived in various...
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A to Z of Marty Wilde, Marty Wilde
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